In our globalized, algorithm-ruled, data-based society, where the lines between public and private are blurred beyond recognition—where the hive mind masquerades as marketable individualism and Big Brother is welcomed with open arms in the name of convenience— some alarming questions present themselves. What is human connection? How easily are webought and sold? Is there any way to cut through all the noise? Is it too late? Do we even care? And how does music—real music—fit into it all?These are the ideas that motivated Warbly Jets’ new EP, Propaganda—which has the LosAngeles trio examining the idea of life-commodified, with a genre-wrecking sample-based set of rock songs that highlight their studio dexterity as well as their disinterest in doing whatanyone expects of them. Just like their self-titled debut, released in 2017, Propaganda pullsno punches, articulately and acidicly riffing on the seedy state of things, over an arena-ready, anthemic sound and massive beats.“ ‘Propaganda’ is a term as much as it’s a cultural ethos that’s been widely accepted. Anything from advertisement to self-aggrandizement qualifies,” explains multi-instrumentalist Julien O’neill. “From social media, push notifications, targeted ads—we’ve openly elected to carry around miniature billboards, playing our part under the promising guise of a sense of ‘connection.’ We feel empty without it.”After a non-stop year spent on the road opening for Liam Gallagher, The Dandy Warhols, Mystery Lights, and Night Beats—as well as headlining international tours of their own in China and the UK—Propagandaserved as a welcome return to Ultrasound Studios, the band’s home-base in downtown Los Angeles, and a chance to use their newfound experience, stamina, and perspective to take things to the next level. “We were getting burnt out and really wanted to shake up our writing process, so we’ve been working much more with samplers and keyboards,” adds frontman Samuel Shea. And while Propagandadoes provide a distinct shift in the band’s sound, the juiced-up, souped-up prowling attitude they do so well remains right at the core.And while early praise fromFlaunt, Brooklyn Vegan,Indie Shuffle,LA Record, and Rolling Stone France, as well as a swift climb up the Spotify charts, plays on Sirius XMU and Beats1 would look a lot like validation to most bands, Warbly Jets are already back in the studio and gearing up for their 2019 North American Tour.
Collapsing Scenery is the meeting of two fertile and febrile minds, Don De Vore (Ink & Dagger, Lilys, The Icarus Line, Amazing Baby) and Reggie Debris. Together they straddle the gap between music, art, film and politics, seamlessly moving between each with the same ease at which they traverse the globe, soaking up experiences and immersing themselves in different cultures.
Since they formed in 2013 “under a pall of paranoia and disgust” they haven’t stopped moving. Recent collaborations include Jamaican dancehall legend Ninjaman, Beastie Boys producer/collaborator Money Mark, and no-wave pioneer James Chance. The band also has remixes out or on the way from Genesis P-Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle), Jennifer Herrema (Royal Trux), Uniform, Youth Code, Brian DeGraw (Gang Gang Dance), and more.
A conversation with them recalls stories of recently recording a ‘goth-dancehall’ track in Jamaica, sailing their soundsystem into Britain for a series of shows, visiting occupied territories in Palestine on fact-finding missions, recording their debut album on a remote ranch in Texas and soaking up rays in Corsica – and that’s in the first five minutes.
The band's debut album Stress Positions is a glorious collision of futurist electro, glacial goth tones, techno, post-punk and chillwave recorded using analogue electronics: samplers, step sequencers, synths and drum machines. Aesthetically it initially recalls the early pioneering synth-punk of bands such as Human League, Screamers and The Normal, when the most forwarding thinking punks looked to the twenty-first century. Dig deeper however and it reveals an articulate and highly politicised collection that’s far from mired being in nostalgia for the recent past. Quite the opposite: Stress Positions is a forward-looking album with strong state-of-the-world lyrical content. In the tradition of so many defining electro duos – whether Suicide, Pet Shop Boys or Underworld – Collapsing Scenery’s architecture is entirely of their own creation. They’ve built their own world and live in it. The album also features contributions from UK grime artist Jammz, award wining Palestinian hip hop group DAM, LA shoegazer Tamaryn and several other likeminded collaborators.
BLACKPAW is the synth drenched, post-punk, crooning solo project from LA native Adrian Rodriguez, born in the wake of a motorcycle accident that left Rodriguez bedridden and unable to do much more than write, play guitar, and take existential inventory. The recovery process spurred Rodriguez to channel his creative energy into a new project that would take him from a supporting mainstay in the local scene to a sound all his own. The result of that rebirth is Blackpaw, a collaboration with longtime friend and co/producer George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow.